Friday, 1 April 2011

About the longlist... and 'The Method and Other Stories', Tom Vowler

Over recent months I've been the lucky recipient of boxes and boxes of brand new books as publishers have entered their authors for the Edge Hill Prize. It has been a pleasure to read so many fantastic short story collections. In the coming weeks I'm going to be blogging about the longlisted books and linking reviews of each collection to the short story prize twitter feed. So that I don't get carried away, I've set myself a limit of 150 words per collection.

I'll be writing about the books in no particular order, and because I don't have the responsibility of picking the winner, I have been able to sit back, relax and enjoy reading for its own sake. (The prize will be judged by writer and broadcaster Stuart Maconie, Marcus Gipps of Gollancz and Jeremy Dyson, winner of the 2010 Edge Hill Prize).

The Method and Other Stories, Tom Vowler

Vowler's Scott Prize winning collection has been described as an overture to a great writing career. The title story, 'The Method' sees an author resort to method-writing after his publisher complains that she doesn't believe in the main character of his novel 'Will's Island'. The author subsequently embarks on a quest for verisimilitude which leads to him getting fired, tattooed, arrested and high: his publisher is delighted to read new work that is suddenly 'real' and 'visceral'. 'The Method' is an excellent collection opener (an extract is available to read here) and Vowler's accomplished writing continues throughout. I particularly enjoyed the punch packed by the deceptively short 'Meet Malcolm' (I was tempted to count the words, but resisted) and the intriguingly titled 'There are New Birthdays Now', a compelling look at a mother and father more than a decade after the disappearance of their daughter.
Interviews with Tom can be read here, here and here.
Reviews of 'The Method' can be read here and here.

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